Are Fripperies Tweeted Twipperies?

Fifth Friday footnotes, follow-ups, and far-flung fripperies:

• I’m glad that Oregon Festival of American Music has brought “Oklahoma” to Eugene this week, but did they have to bring the state’s summer weather with it? There is such a thing as too much authenticity.

• It didn’t take Al Franken long to disrupt the status quo in the U.S. Senate. Less than a week into his tenure, he asked a disarmingly silly question of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. He asked if she could name the only case Perry Mason ever lost. The question got plenty of attention, but it was only the trap being set. Later (and less noticed), Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy took the bait. He asked Franken for the answer. Franken’s reply: “I don’t know. That’s why I was asking. If I knew, I wouldn’t have asked her.” A U.S. senator publicly posing a question without already knowing the answer? That’s new, even if it’s not news.

• I appreciated Jennifer Love’s recent contribution to this page, objecting to the sexism of words like “mankind.” A good friend has proposed a radical solution. Let’s swap the meaning and connotation of “man” and “human,” making “human” the male and “man” the generic. Not only would we redeem “mankind,” but we could also refer to Patrick Leahy once again as a chairman, instead of a chair.

• Just once, I’m going to lather and rinse, but not repeat. Just to see.

• Aren’t carbon offsets just modern “indulgences,” giving the rich an alternative to personal piety? If environmentalism has become a religion, carbon offsets provide cap-and-trade salvation.

• As an introverted communitarian, I spend every moment either lonely or afraid — except when I’m both.

• Most spontaneity is the result of careful planning.

• You can measure the ambition of a town’s founders by the width of its Main Street. By that calculation, Klamath Falls was thinking big.

• I don’t worship the sun, but don’t flee it either. Maybe I should. It is aflame and nuclear-powered, after all. But it’s so far away….

• Why can’t we tip those who pump our gas? Or, if we can, why don’t we? Feeding our machine is less than feeding us? Tip jars at pumps!

• My iPhone can alert me when a friend is within a mile of me. Why can’t I call a driver who’s within 20 feet to ask that they let me pass?

• A source told me he canceled his R-G subscription because he could get it all on-line without having to recycle the paper— but he’d gladly pay full price if asked. I wonder how common is that sentiment.

• Everyone claims self-assuredly that newspapers cannot resist new media because they rely too heavily on written words. Why aren’t restaurant menus imperiled? Why do only Asian restaurants show pictures of the food? A modern menu could show a photo, plus reviews from other diners, a full ingredient list, plus a video of the cook preparing it.

• Ever wonder why ideas come to you in the shower? Because thinking’s both hard & delicate. Mostly we try too hard. Hold your thoughts lightly and they’ll flow more easily.

• Relocating Eugene police would a no-brainer, except they’ll now have to constantly defend their “country club” address.

• Some socks have branding embellishments near the toe. Does that mean I can’t wear them with sandals?

• I fear we’ll someday lose a distinction between mental illness and chronic unhappiness. Or worse, we’ll learn there isn’t any.

• My dog worships me. Is worship the beginning of sentience? Are dogs on the cusp of self-awareness? Cats were, under Pharaohs, but chose against.

• I wondered to a friend how activism and hygiene became oppositional. Theory: Mormons dominate the clean-cut activism niche, so tree-huggers eschew soap. Then a darker explanation emerged. Are tree-hugger-activists displaying their unkemptness to set themselves apart from the rest of us? An animistic pietism?

• Scientists say turtle’s shell is not hardened skin, but inverted ribs. So “coming out of your shell” means literally turning one’s self completely inside out.

• Will rampant anti-obesity tropes wake us from our more-is-better stupor or lull us into a deeper slumber of self-loathing? Soul and stomach are near but not alike.

• Tax amnesty programs will raise cash from state income tax scofflaws & Eugene court deadbeats. Good. We signed up for hope — we’re getting jubilee.

• I’ve never had a favorite grocery checkout clerk before. I’m glad now to pick a line for some reason other than speed. (I was always wrong anyway.)

• I called a friend after he was mentioned as a supporter of KRVM. I needed a (silly) reason. What could be better?

• Has any rhetorical dodge yet been invented to better “the exception that proves the rule”? It’s so elegant in its nonsensical subversion.

• Some would say it’s hot today. Others would see a good day to clean the fridge. Me, I think it’s too hot to clean the fridge.

• The president, a cop, and a scholar shared beers last night. Race is secondary. It’s that race can no longer be used as a proxy for class. (It’s the white guy who is the “working stiff.”) Beer could be the great leveler. No wine allowed, but what about microbrews?

• A year ago I stood in line to get an iPhone, and then spent a month in and around Iraq. A year later, I wonder which has changed me more.

• “Is a Twitter brag a ‘twag?'” he asked, hoping he was the first and that his query warranted a later twag to those who barely know him.

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Don Kahle (fridays@dksez.com) writes a weekly column for The Register-Guard. He blogs. You can follow Kahle’s fripperies (a.k.a. “tweets”) at www.twitter.com/dksez.